"About sunset they began to flock together, calling to each other for that purpose, and in a short time presented the appearance of clouds moving towards the lakes, or the mouth of the Mississippi, as the weather and wind suited. Their aerial evolutions before they alight, are truly beautiful." - "Republican, or Cliff Swallow," The Birds of America; from original drawings by John James Audubon
This chromolithograph from a reissue of The Birds of America; from original drawings by John James Audubon
, a color-plate book by American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter John James Audubon
(b. Haiti, 1785). The original publication, produced serially from 1827 to 1838, consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints, made from engraved
plates, and measuring around 39 by 26 inches (99 by 66 cm), that are based upon Audubon's original paintings. Each plate was engraved, printed, and hand-colored by noted London animal engraver Robert Havell Jr.
, and his father, Robert Havell Sr, who oversaw production. Audubon's major work, The Birds of America
is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.
In 1858, Audubon's son, John Woodhouse Audubon, undertook a full-sized reissue of The Birds of America
with publisher Roe Lockwood in New York. Chromolithography pioneer Julius Bien
was contracted as the lithographer, and the edition is colloquially referred to as the Bien Edition. Due in part to the Civil War, the edition was never finished. Only fifteen parts of the forty-four part series were completed, including one hundred and five plates, but with none of the original text. As less than one hundred subscriptions were sold and produced, this edition is rarer than other early editions.